Irene Murtagh


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SignON: Sign Language Translation. Progress and challenges.
Vincent Vandeghinste | Dimitar Shterionov | Mirella De Sisto | Aoife Brady | Mathieu De Coster | Lorraine Leeson | Josep Blat | Frankie Picron | Marcello Paolo Scipioni | Aditya Parikh | Louis ten Bosch | John O’Flaherty | Joni Dambre | Jorn Rijckaert | Bram Vanroy | Victor Ubieto Nogales | Santiago Egea Gomez | Ineke Schuurman | Gorka Labaka | Adrián Núnez-Marcos | Irene Murtagh | Euan McGill | Horacio Saggion
Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation

SignON ( is a Horizon 2020 project, running from 2021 until the end of 2023, which addresses the lack of technology and services for the automatic translation between sign languages (SLs) and spoken languages, through an inclusive, human-centric solution, hence contributing to the repertoire of communication media for deaf, hard of hearing (DHH) and hearing individuals. In this paper, we present an update of the status of the project, describing the approaches developed to address the challenges and peculiarities of SL machine translation (SLMT).

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A Linked Data Approach for linking and aligning Sign Language and Spoken Language Data
Thierry Declerck | Sam Bigeard | Fahad Khan | Irene Murtagh | Sussi Olsen | Mike Rosner | Ineke Schuurman | Andon Tchechmedjiev | Andy Way
Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Automatic Translation for Signed and Spoken Languages

We present work dealing with a Linked Open Data (LOD)-compliant representation of Sign Language (SL) data, with the goal of supporting the cross-lingual alignment of SL data and their linking to Spoken Language (SpL) data. The proposed representation is based on activities of groups of researchers in the field of SL who have investigated the use of Open Multilingual Wordnet (OMW) datasets for (manually) cross-linking SL data or for linking SL and SpL data. Another group of researchers is proposing an XML encoding of articulatory elements of SLs and (manually) linking those to an SpL lexical resource. We propose an RDF-based representation of those various data. This unified formal representation offers a semantic repository of information on SL and SpL data that could be accessed for supporting the creation of datasets for training or evaluating NLP applications dealing with SLs, thinking for example of Machine Translation (MT) between SLs and between SLs and SpLs.

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Towards Accommodating Gerunds within the Sign Language Lexicon
Zaid Mohammed | Irene Murtagh
Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Automatic Translation for Signed and Spoken Languages

This work is part of ongoing research work that focuses on the linguistic analysis and computational description of five different Sign Languages (SLs), namely Irish Sign Language (ISL), Flemish Sign Language (VGT), Dutch Sign Language (NGT), Spanish Sign Language (LSE), and British Sign Language (BSL). This work will be leveraged to inform the development of SL lexicon entries for a Sign Language Machine Translation (SLMT) system. In particular, this research focuses on ISL. We investigate the existence of constructions similar to or equivalent in functionality to gerunds in spoken language, in particular, English. The initial findings indicate that such constructions do indeed exist and that they can take many forms.


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Sign Language Machine Translation and the Sign Language Lexicon: A Linguistically Informed Approach
Irene Murtagh | Víctor Ubieto Nogales | Josep Blat
Proceedings of the 15th biennial conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (Volume 1: Research Track)

Natural language processing and the machine translation of spoken language (speech/text) has benefitted from significant scientific research and development in re-cent times, rapidly advancing the field. On the other hand, computational processing and modelling of signed language has unfortunately not garnered nearly as much interest, with sign languages generally being excluded from modern language technologies. Many deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals use sign language on a daily basis as their first language. For the estimated 72 million deaf people in the world, the exclusion of sign languages from modern natural language processing and machine translation technology, aggravates further the communication barrier that already exists for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. This research leverages a linguistically informed approach to the processing and modelling of signed language. We outline current challenges for sign language machine translation from both a linguistic and a technical prespective. We provide an account of our work in progress in the development of sign language lexicon entries and sign language lexeme repository entries for SLMT. We leverage Role and Reference Grammar together with the Sign_A computational framework with-in this development. We provide an XML description for Sign_A, which is utilised to document SL lexicon entries together with SL lexeme repository entries. This XML description is also leveraged in the development of an extension to Bahavioural Markup Language, which will be used within this development to link the divide be-tween the sign language lexicon and the avatar animation interface.


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Defining meaningful units. Challenges in sign segmentation and segment-meaning mapping (short paper)
Mirella De Sisto | Dimitar Shterionov | Irene Murtagh | Myriam Vermeerbergen | Lorraine Leeson
Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Automatic Translation for Signed and Spoken Languages (AT4SSL)

This paper addresses the tasks of sign segmentation and segment-meaning mapping in the context of sign language (SL) recognition. It aims to give an overview of the linguistic properties of SL, such as coarticulation and simultaneity, which make these tasks complex. A better understanding of SL structure is the necessary ground for the design and development of SL recognition and segmentation methodologies, which are fundamental for machine translation of these languages. Based on this preliminary exploration, a proposal for mapping segments to meaning in the form of an agglomerate of lexical and non-lexical information is introduced.